A Sarasota, Florida man just lived through and survived a waking nightmare. He was swimming in Lake Manatee, a lake that’s about 15 miles from my house, when he was attacked by the alligator.
The gator latched onto his arm and pulled him under the water several times. The man, Eric Merda, fought to stay above water and that’s when the alligator went into the infamous ‘death roll’ and ripped his arm off before swimming away with it.
A Sarasota, Florida man had his arm bitten off by an alligator in Lake Manatee. Then survives for 3 days in the woods before finding help.
Merda said “she’s already got my arm, so when we came up the third time, she finally did her death roll and took off with my arm.” Most people would give up at that moment. I would have. But he fought on and this was just the beginning of his story.
Eric Merda then made his way back to the shore of Lake Manatee and then had to survive for THREE DAYS in the swamp before he found help. He eventually walked up to a fence and found a man who was, understandably so, COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY that a man missing an arm just walked up to him injured.
Eric Merda gave a wild interview about his survival story. In it, he describes being attacked by an alligator on Lake Manatee in Manatee County, Florida, just north of Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota.
Eric Merda’s Interview About Surviving For 3 Days After Losing His Arm To A Gator:
Here are two versions of the interview from local Sarasota and Tampa Bay-based news outlets:
Absolutely bonkers. He said he was trying to wiggle his missing fingers and could see the hanging tendons twitching inside his arm. His exact words were “bones poking out, muscles, if I try to move my fingers, you could see it twitching.”
How this man survived for three days without loss of blood or simply dying from shock and pain defies the limits of human capabilities. Eventually he started tracking the power lines after thinking he was walking in circles and followed those until he found a fence with a man on the other side who called paramedics and hot him to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
I don’t suspect there are many people out there who take swimming with alligators lightly, but this should serve as a reminder that if there are alligators in the water it’s time to get out. Give them their space and tragic things won’t happen.
Eric Merda is now adjusting to a new life with one arm. That’s a herculean task for any adult to go through, having to completely reorder how you do everything in life. For more on his journey forward, you can check out a local Sarasota article from WTSP.
Other recent Alligator encounters in Southwest Florida
I mentioned above that Lake Manatee where this incident occurred is near my home in Sarasota, FL. It’s just a couple of miles away from where I send my son to daycare. It really is hard for me to wrap my mind around this happening so close to home. But then again, these alligators are everywhere.
Just a few weeks ago and a short drive south of here, police were called to remove an alligator from a middle school:
This 7 ft. gator greeted students during drop-off at Lexington Middle School this morning! 🐊
SRO K9 handler Jennings,a former gator trapper, wrangled the visitor.
The alligator was taken by FWC where it will be relocated to a safe area pic.twitter.com/rxdyOtXgdq
— Carmine Marceno – Florida’s Law and Order Sheriff (@SheriffLeeFL) August 24, 2022
A few weeks before that, footage was captured about an hour north of here showing a truly massive alligator eating another gator in Silver Springs, Florida:
Here’s to hoping that none of us ever end up in a headline with the words ‘Florida Man’ and ‘Alligator’…
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